It’s been six years since Marion Bartoli was defeated by Venus Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final. Since that day the Frenchwoman has not been able to scale such heights at Grand Slam level. But with a slew of withdrawals and upsets this week, the world No.15’s half of the draw is startlingly bereft of big names.
But standing in her way of a place in the fourth round was Italian 21-year-old Camila Giorgi. Wielding a game bigger than her slight frame suggests, Giorgi already has four top 20 victories on her resume, including victory in her and Bartoli’s only career meeting prior to this third-round match.
To get this far, Giorgi ousted No.22 seed Sorana Cirstea in two tie-break sets and British wild card Samantha Murray in the first round, while Bartoli has enjoyed two matches against unseeded players in Elina Svitolina and Christina McHale.
But for Bartoli and her dreams of taking that one final step at a major, she first had to get past 93rd-ranked Giorgi – her most difficult assignment so far this week.
Early on both players were keen to test each other out – with a straight-sets loss to Giorgi still fresh in her mind, Bartoli did not want to present the Italian with any unnecessary early opportunities.
“It was a tough, long day,” said Bartoli. “I lost against Camila in Strasbourg which was not very long ago. I'm very pleased the way I've been able to turn around this time.
“[I] Really took my chances when I had some. I'm very pleased with the way I was handling the pressure, as well.”
Games stayed on serve early but then a string of breaks that began with Bartoli leading 3-2 continued until the Frenchwoman won the set 6-4.
“She was serving a lot harder than me and I was still able to break her. I think I was doing a great job on my return of serve. I was just not serving fast enough to disturb her. Because she has so much power on both sides, she was able to take control of the game.”
Giorgi was on high alert early in the second set, determined not to let the match slip away. It was heartening to see that the 21-year-old didn’t shelve her attacking game plan – which included winning 19 of 27 net approaches – rather she stepped it up. The plan paid off when she broke Bartoli to take a 3-2 lead.
But then the rain came – and for Giorgi it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Leading 4-3 but trailing 30-40, umpire James Keothavong suspended play just before 5.30 pm local time. It would be more than two hours before the covers were removed.
When play resumed Bartoli promptly snatched the break back to restore balance to the second set at 4-4. Games stayed on serve until the 12th game when Giorgi, who was trailing 6-5, made two crucial unforced errors that handed Bartoli two match points.
The 15th seed needed only one, claiming the match with a rare volley winner to progress to the fourth round where she will face Italy’s Karin Knapp who defeated Michelle Larcher De Brito 7-5, 6-2 for a place in the quarter-finals.
“Second week of a Grand Slam is a new start, especially here where you have two days off. It's really a new tournament starting. I have to make sure I stay mentally very tough and keeping the same intensity.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...View all